Out-half Dan Biggar remains on the road to recovery ahead of Wales’ RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland this weekend.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde says Biggar is “working with the medics around the clock” in an attempt to regain full fitness.
Biggar, arguably Wales’ stand-out performer during the World Cup earlier this season, limped off nursing a sprained ankle midway through the first half of last Sunday’s 16-16 draw with Ireland in Dublin.
Rhys Priestland replaced him and helped haul Wales back into the contest from 13 points adrift, and he occupies pole position to start when Scotland arrive at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, should Biggar not recover in time.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up today.
“Dan is out of a (surgical) boot, and he is working with the medics around the clock to give himself every chance,” McBryde said. I don’t think he (Biggar) is going to be training today, but he might be able to tomorrow.
“We’ve seen in the past that the medical team have worked wonders, really.
“I remember Dan Lydiate at the 2011 World Cup, where it really was a case of waking himself up every two hours throughout the night to ice his ankle, and he surprised everyone by coming back fit. If he (Biggar) is fit enough, he’s fit enough. If he’s not, he’s not. It is as clear-cut as that.
“We know there is not a lot of pressure on us to make that decision because we have an able body in Rhys Priestland, which takes the pressure off having to make a decision early in the week.
“Everyone is aware of the strengths that Dan possesses with regards to the kicking game in particular, and the ability to challenge and compete as well as he does in the air.
“Rhys is a different player. He has got his own strengths, and we saw that on Sunday. He proved he is as good as anyone with regards to kicking under pressure.
“We have got ultimate confidence in Rhys. He has been in and around the squad for quite some time now. He seemed comfortable, and certainly didn’t take anything away from the display on Sunday.” McBryde, meanwhile, confirmed that full-back Gareth Anscombe is fit to be considered after he was a late withdrawal from the Ireland game due to a tight hamstring, with Liam Williams taking over in the number 15 shirt.
Despite an opening weekend draw that ended Wales’ Grand Slam and Triple Crown hopes, victories in their four remaining fixtures – three of which are in Cardiff – should be enough to see them crowned Six Nations champions.
It represents a tall order, but recent history certainly favours them this weekend, with Wales having reeled off eight successive wins against Scotland since Gatland took charge eight years ago.
“I think we showed on the weekend that we are not that far away. We are creating plenty of opportunities, it’s just nailing them, really,” McBryde added. It comes down to one extra pass sometimes, a little bit more depth or getting it (the ball) through your hands a bit quicker, and I am sure if we had nailed those opportunities early on, it would have been a different game.”
Meanwhile, England defence coach Paul Gustard says Maro Itoje could be given the chance to show his prodigious talent in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy.
Itoje and Josh Beaumont have been included in a 25-strong England squad for the trip to Rome. England head coach Eddie Jones is set to name his starting XV on Friday morning and has hinted that there will be changes to his pack due to the conditions expected at the Stadio Olimpico.
Itoje has been in outstanding form for Saracens this season and could be in line for a first cap in round two of the championship at the expense of either Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes or George Kruis.
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